Favorite Art Materials

A few of my favorite things.

Updated April 2023

I update this page regularly to reflect my current favorite materials, but products I used previously are stored as an Archive for a personal record. If you saw something here before that is no longer here, check the Archive page.

I keep this page relevant by listing only my current favorites. Reviews for all products can still be found by using the "Product Review" label, by using the tabs across the top of the blog, or by using the search box at upper right to search for the specific product name. Highlighted below are reviews of products I currently use most often:

Tina's Top Colored Pencils
A Word (or Two) on Brushes
Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle water-soluble pencils
Hahnemuhle 100% Cotton Watercolor Sketchbook

I talk about some of my favorite sketching materials in a July 2020 interview on the Erasable Podcast and a July 2021 episode of the Art Supply Posse podcast.

My Rickshaw Bagworks Zero messenger bag has sketched with me on
four continents.

Here are other related posts that you might find interesting:

Tina's 2016 Top 10
Tina's 2015 Top 10
Tina's 2014 Top 10
Tina's 2013 Top 10 
Tina's 2012 Top 10 
Tina's Bottom 10 (including reasons for detesting these products)
The Sketch Bag: An Update
Travel Sketching Tips
The Hand Bookbinding Groove (my bookbinding process)
Lightfastness is a Philosophical Issue (and a Longevity Test of Zig Markers)
Epic Pen Search and Discovery (my multi-part series on my search for the Grail of variable-line-width fountain pen nibs)
Colored Pencils Are Taking Over (why I prefer them to markers)
What I've Learned from Field Notes
How Many Colored Pencils Do You Really Need?
Sketch Kit Diet: Lighter, Slimmer, More Essential
Amsterdam Sketch Kit: Same as Every Day
If I Had to Choose Only One Colored Pencil

(Note: For your convenience, I’ve included links to online resources for my favorite art supplies, but please shop around for the best value. I am not affiliated with any of these retailers and will not receive a kickback, even though I should, since I give them so much of my money.)

Everyday-Carry Bag

Since 2012, I've been using a "small" size Rickshaw Bagworks Zero messenger bag, carried with me at all times the way I used to carry my purse. For more on bags and sketch kits carrying accessories, see this page

My original Rickshaw Zero Messenger Bag (size small), still in use

My spring/summer Rickshaw bag

This waterproof version of the Rickshaw Zero Messenger Bag is my wet-season bag. It's the same size and style as the original -- just a different fabric.

Tools and Materials 

In my full-size Peg & Awl Sendak artist roll (shown above), I carry all my color materials and almost all essential tools:

 I also use a mini-size Peg & Awl Sendak artist roll for materials and tools that I am experimenting with occasionally but don’t want to keep in my everyday-carry bag (shown below with a selection of non-soluble colored pencils). To see how I coordinate both Sendaks, see this post.

Mini Sendak with experimental materials.

Other bag compartments hold these essentials:


In 2022, I switched from a Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook to a Hahnemuhle watercolor sketchbook as my daily-carry. I still use Beta in the studio, but in the field, I prefer the Hahnemuhle's texture and A5 format.

I also always carry a pocket-size Field Notes notebook, most often a red Sweet Tooth edition, but occasionally others for variety, like the slightly larger Signature edition (see below). This small book is handy for quick, perhaps discreetly made sketches of people on public transportation or other situations when I don’t necessarily need or want my full-size sketchbook. (This post describes how I use a Field Notes for a variety of daily purposes.)

At my studio desk, I also use a variety of Stillman & Birn sketchbooks for still lives and product testing.

My daily-carry Field Notes 

Rickshaw Model R Sinclair

Since October 2022, I've slimmed down my materials enough to fit my tools into a tidy Rickshaw Model R Sinclair. The Sinclair has neatened up and lightened the load in my daily-carry bag.

Rickshaw Model R Sinclair

Walk-Sketch Everyday Carry Bag

Originally put together during the first pandemic year when my sketching area was confined to my neighborhood and needs were minimal, my "mini" size Rickshaw Zero Messenger Bag has become my general fitness-walking bag and nearly an everyday-carry. Sometimes I wish I could make it a permanent everyday-carry, but the issue is always the sketchbook: The mini size bag is not large enough to carry my favorite A5-size sketchbook. Maybe some day.

Rickshaw Zero Messenger Bag in the "mini" size

For more information about how I organize my bag and sketch materials, please see this page.

Cafe and Car Sketching

In winter when I do most of my urban sketching in coffee shops and from my mobile studio -- situations when I don't stand while sketching -- the Sendak Artist Roll leans up against the steering wheel or on the cafe table.

Mini Sendak when sketching in my car (2/22)

Using an outdoor bench as a cafe table (2/22)

On the Sidewalk

When I'm sketching on location, I prefer to stand. My opened Sendak keeps all materials and tools standing upright and easily accessible.

My full-size Sendak holds all my sketch tools upright and easily accessible (4/22).

In the Studio

Struggling to draw with my non-dominant hand!
But the Art Stand Desktop Easel helps immensely.

During these pandemic times, I've spent more time than usual sketching in my studio. Although I use most of the same favorite materials at home as I do on location, I have a few indispensable tools that I use only in my studio:

My favorite Carl Angel-5 hand-crank sharpener


  1. I love your gear> Everything!
    Probably I will ask you some suggestions on some of your equipment later, especially the marker and the Stillman & Birn sketchbooks.
    And what an ordered and clean desktop... I will never had something like you! :)



  2. Love your kit! Have you ever tried the Cretacolor water-soluble coloured pencils, "Aquamonolith" series? (I don't know if they're available in U.S.). They're fantastic. Good thing is they are made all-graphite, there's no wood around the graphite. Bad thing is, if they fall they will break in two pieces.

  3. I always love reading about your gear and bags. So interesting.

  4. Dear Friend Tina,
    A fab blog with many things I like so much. I will watching all works.
    Best regards,

  5. Hi Tina...live your blog. So much great information. Can you please advise the size of your Rickshaw bag? I've looked over your blog but can't see any sizing...unless my eyesight is worse than I thought! 🤓 Thanks again for a great blog.

    1. Hi Jeannette! I have the "small" Rickshaw Zero bag. You can find all the dimensions and other info here: http://www.rickshawbags.com/small-zero-messenger-bag
      If you explore the site, you'll find info on the other sizes, too. Have fun, and happy sketching!

    2. Thank you Tina....just need to decide between the small and the medium 🤔😀

  6. Oops...darn eyes are bad. "Love" not live 😜

  7. Hi Tina,
    Very informative blog! Thanks, came to know so many new art supplies which I can explore. It's a pleasure to read.

  8. Hello Tina,

    I’ve been enjoying your blog. It has been very helpful. I too have started binding my own sketchbooks using the Coptic stitch. However, so far I bind them first and then use them. I will be taking a trip to Italy this May and will be traveling VERY light,and small. So, I’m searching for anyway I can minimize my kit, and lighten my load. The idea of carrying signatures which I can bind later is very intriguing. Tell me, do you remove your temporary folder prior to binding? Or are the colorful I assume heavier weight paper covers retained in the bound sketchbook? I use 140# watercolor paper. When I bound my sketchbooks I used only two sheets per signature. I understand you are using 4 sheets stitched together in your signature? What stitch do you use for the signatures? I appreciate your advice on this topic. Thank you,

    1. Hi Stephanie! I bind 4 sheets plus the heavier colored paper cover into a signature using a simple temporary stitch (saddle stitch?), and I punch the holes so that they will be the same as what I would want to use when I finally bind with Coptic. I fill the signature with sketches, and I wait until I have 5 more signatures filled. Then I cut away the temporary stitching, remove the colored paper cover (which is simply to protect the first and last pages of the signature), and bind the 6 signatures together with Coptic using the same holes that I had punched previously for the temporary stitching. It's a very lightweight and simple solution that has been working well for me for 5 years! :-)

    2. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. This is very helpful.

  9. March 7, 2021 Yes, Tina, I'm totally fascinated with your Blog, and it's been under a year since it 'discovered' me through a search result list about Pens and Inks. It is clear you are the 'Sherlock Holmes & company of the Sketching and Materials world! or should be acknowledged as such! You have taught me about things I didn't even realize I needed or wanted to know and it's been fun! Thanks for your great blog!

  10. I love the bags ♥, these are perfect for artists that like to travel places and find exciting views to paint. I love to travel places and paint landscapes. Next month I am planning to go to a beach with my family, and I'll bring my new set of art materials from Warehouse of Art Supplies. My friend recommended them, and I want to try them while on vacation.

  11. Thanks for sharing your favourite art materials. One of my go-to art supplies is the Derwent coloured pencil from Warehouse of Art Supplies. I super love the quality and its texture. Also, check out their premium quality artist canvas very recommendable.


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